Nothing prepares you for being a new mom-to-be. But that first go-around won’t necessarily prepare you for your second journey either.
My first pregnancy was quite magical. I was able to exercise comfortably throughout the entire nine+ months, I never once experienced morning sickness and I had only a few minimal migraines in the first trimester. What’s more, I felt more attractive than I had in my entire 37 years of life, and I absolutely loved connecting with the little life growing inside of me. I was walking around with the proverbial “glow” everyone hopes to experience while expecting. To this day, I reflect on this pregnancy as one of the best experiences of my life.
Fast forward two years, and I found out I was pregnant with baby no. 2. I was over-the-moon excited and couldn’t wait to share the incredible experience with my firstborn. But it wouldn’t be everything I dreamed about.
My Second-Pregnancy Experience
The first trimester was pretty smooth in the beginning. But then the migraines returned; they lasted longer and were more intense. What’s more, pregnancy exhaustion reared its ugly head (talk about an unwelcome house guest). It was quite a feat having to chase, clothe, breastfeed, bathe and homeschool a toddler—plus work a fulltime job in a leadership role—while feeling that immense level of lethargy. It all took a toll, but the worst was yet to come.
Soon after, I was faced with constipation, hemorrhoids and sciatica pain—you know, the things we never talk about with each other, even if they’re common symptoms for many of us. The realness of pregnancy was setting in, and I wasn’t my happiest self. On top of all this, sitting at my desk for 50 to 60 hours a week was exacerbating my back pain and headaches.
During an OB visit, I told my doctor what I had been going through. My whole body was in pain, and I felt like I was on the brink of a breakdown. My mental health was sliding, and I wasn’t in a good place. I was immediately relieved when she said she wanted me to go on early maternity leave. I knew that I had to reclaim my health and take care of myself—but I couldn’t grant myself that kindness until it came from an outsider. As moms, we often feel like we need to do it all. But finally, I had permission; I needed someone to give me the help I was having trouble asking for.
Lessons Learned Along the Way
Once I was on maternity leave, I started going to a chiropractor who specializes in helping pregnant women. I also went for weekly massages to relieve some of the muscle tension I was experiencing. I carved out time and showed myself love. Little by little, I started to feel like myself again.
Suffice it to say that my second pregnancy journey was a learning experience—and I hope my takeaways might benefit other moms going through similar experiences. Here are just a few of the lessons I learned:
Listen to your body. Noone knows your body better than you do.
Take the time you need to rest. Even if you’re already a busy mama, carving out “me time” is critical. Turns out, you don’t need permission.
Stop making excuses for why you can’t take care of yourself. Excuses are a major motivation-suck. Get out of your own way and prioritize your own needs. (Also, remember that you are literally growing a human!)
Embrace exercise and eat healthy. It’ll make a big difference in your pregnancy journey. Plus, it’s good for you and baby. Moreover, it can help you set an example for your growing family.
Don’t wait until the last minute to practice self-care. More often than not, waiting until you’re in dire pain is too late. Maintaining your mental and physical health is much easier than starting from scratch. And, BTW, you don’t have to be nearing 40 weeks to indulge in some rituals of self-care and love. This can and should start now.
Pay attention to your mental state. Mental health is not just a buzz term. It’s a very important facet in your overall health. Don’t know where to turn? Talk to your doctor or midwife; they’ll point you in the right direction and get you the help you need.
There’s truth to the statement “every pregnancy is different.” What’s more, just like every mom is different and every baby is different, every season of your life may feel different. It’s important to remember that truth and give yourself the space and grace to take a step back, take it all in and take charge of your well-being.
About the author:
Adriana Quaranto is a CEO turned full-time snack-holder. She is a mom to two children, a breastfeeding advocate and a marketing professional. She’s also now a lifestyle blogger documenting her motherhood journey on her blog 4F’s Given, where she talks about her four favorite “F” words: family, fashion, food and fitness. Follow her journey on Instagram for real-life parenting tips sprinkled with humor.